New York, New York

It’s a long season so it’s obviously too early to get worried in New York, but it’s not easy being a Yankee and expectations are much higher than in some organizations around Major League Baseball. As a result, you know that unestablished players like third baseman Cody Ransom (.083/.153/.125) and center-fielder Brett Gardner (.227/.261/.273) could spend a significant amount of time on the hot seat whenever the club struggles – like it is now.

The fourth-place Yankees have a number of interesting names currently playing just one stop away from the Major Leagues in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ransom will eventually be replaced by the rehabbing third-base incumbent Alex Rodriguez. However, if the club gets tired of the sub-.200 average that Ransom is providing in the meantime, Eric Duncan could receive a look. The former No. 1 draft pick is currently hitting .286/.412/.286 in 14 at-bats in Triple-A, although he’s no longer considered a ‘first-round talent.’ Angel Berroa, who received some consideration for the roster spot that Ransom currently owns, is hitting .318 in 22 at-bats.

Gardner is currently struggling a bit in the Big Apple, but top prospect Austin Jackson – who just happens to play center field – is smoking hot in Triple-A. The 22-year-old phenom is currently hitting .500/.538/.591 with six RBI in five games. If we’re nitpicking for negatives, he has just one extra base hit (a triple).

First baseman Mark Teixeira has been limited to just 16 at-bats, thanks to a bad wrist. However, Nick Swisher has stepped up and is currently hitting .450/.542/1.150 in 20 at-bats. He’s doing it all, too. Swisher is evening taking to the mound and out-performing Chien-Ming Wang! If the Yankees need more pop at first base, especially if the Teixeira injury lingers, the club can dip down to Triple-A where Juan Miranda is hitting a tidy .417/.462/.750 with 11 RBI in five games.

On the pitching side, starter Ian Kennedy struck out 11 batters and walked no one in his only start. Reliever David Robertson has appeared in two games and has yet to allow a run in five innings. He’s allowed two hits, one walk and has struck out 10. Mark Melancon has struck out seven batters in 3.2 innings and has yet to allow a hit or a walk.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect and rookie analysis. He also operates AstrosBall.com and can be reached via email at: marchulet@astrosball.com, or follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

13 Responses to “New York, New York”

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  1. Jim says:

    I think this article has small sample size alert written all over it. Maybe those guys have had hot starts, but none of them have the chance to be MLB impact players this year except maybe Ian Kennedy if he can pull it together. Jackson is still at least a year away, and the rest of the guys seem pretty much like career minor leaguers.

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    • Ian Kennedy has Quadruple-A player written all over him.

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    • John says:

      1) Small sample size doesn’t really matter when you’re talking about replacements for two guys (Teixeira and Rodriguez) who will be back to full health in less than a month. You want someone who is hot to fill in while the injured person is unable to perform. So, small sample size is fine if you’re only looking for a temporary replacement – someone on a streak. The third, Brett Gardner, is not hitting will and was never guaranteed to keep the job. So, again, the Yankees will be filling it by committee until a long-term answer emerges. Until then, streaks measured by excellent slashes in small samples is just fine.

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      • Jim says:

        A hot streak in the minors and a hot streak in the majors is completely different. It’s pretty unlikely it would carry over. I was only talking about the minor leaguers when I mentioned small sample sizes….not talking about Gardner.

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      • hejuk says:

        There’s no evidence that streaks exist. Each additional at bat is essentially an independent event relative to the previous few, and the expected run value of that at bat is given by true talent level, not recent performance. Obviously at bats aren’t truly independent events, as a batter learns with practice – that is, true talent changes – but for small samples that learning is negligible, and in any case it wouldn’t be evidence for a streak so much as for a change in all future performance.

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  2. AndrewYF says:

    Robertson and Melancon have a great chance to be major league relievers for a long time.

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  3. steveshane67 says:

    what are the realistic chances of seeing austin jackson playing in NY this year? Is he better defensively than Gardner or Melky?

    I think Wang just needs to run the bases a little bit and he should get back to normal.

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  4. keith says:

    7 games in? really?

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  5. brian recca says:

    I hate the Bankees but man David Robertson can strike some people out. Got to give him credit. Then again I can always make fun of the Bankees for keeping him in the minors.

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  6. Marc says:

    I think we’ve gotten people a little crazy over small sample sizes… Any player can catch lightning in a bottle for a short period and be of value for a MLB team. If you read the article, I am not saying these players are going to accomplish anything significant over their careers – or even beyond a short replacement period. And unfortunately at the beginning of a season, a small sample size is all that we have.

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    • Big Oil says:

      This is the general impression I got after reading the article. Picking one specific example, context was given by the mention of A-Rod’s return and statistical achievements of his replacement in the meantime. Those being pretty abismal, it isn’t a stretch to conclude that Duncan/Berroa could perform at a similar level or indeed perhaps better, especially within the context of 1). the NY market; and 2). A-Rod’s pending return.

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  7. RollingWave says:

    CF and 3B are two different situation really. CF is fine and complaining now is jumping the gun a bit, 3B however….

    in CF, both Melky and Grit Gritner have done at least a little bit with the bat. (.299 and .258 wOBA right now.) and there is enough there to believe that at least one of them could provide you with above replacement level performances. besides. Austin Jackson might be a longer term solution for the Yankees, not someone you call up to hope for a lightening in the bottle.

    3B however, is different, for one, while Gritner and Malky havn’t been good, Ransom’s making them look awsome in comparason. there is really nothing more you can say about at guy hitting at a OPS+ of exactly 0 right now. (ZERO!!!)

    And obviously, we all know that none of the guys calling up to replace him will be a long term solution of anysort. so it is a lighting in a bottle thing . in such case. go for it. Ransom’s been making Jeter looking like a true gold glover anyway. so he doesn’t even deserve the util role.

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  8. Hodad says:

    This is ESPN-quality, not fangraphs’. Which editor got drunk and allowed this ridiculousness to be posted?

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